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Full text of "A history of Persia"

ENVELOPMENT OF PERSIA          463
the victorious Turkoman ;1 and slaves in Central Asia
became cheaper than they had been for a generation.2
No sustained effort was made to restore Persia's lost
prestige, but some of the guns were recovered in a raid
from Sarakhs, which was retained as a Persian frontier fort.
The Crushing of the Turkoman by Russia, 1881.óWe
return now to the Russian advance. After the subjuga-
tion of Khiva the only independent area left in Central
Asia was that of the Turkoman, over which, as we have
seen, Persia exercised vague and ineffectual control. Every
year from Chikishliar the Russians despatched strong
columns into the interior, and gradually they annexed the
right bank of the Atrek as far as Chat.3 They also began
to control the Yamut tribe.
In 1877 General Lomakin advanced on Kizil Arvat,
but retreated before making good his position. Two
years later he advanced to Geok Teppe, or " Blue Hill,"
the famous entrenched camp of the Tekke. His artillery
caused terrible losses among the Turkoman, who were
crowded into a small area, but -his assault failed and he
retreated with heavy losses. The shock to Russian
prestige was terrible, and the event may perhaps be
compared with the British retreat from Kabul.
General Skobeleff was now entrusted with the task
of rehabilitating Russia's lowered reputation. Realizing
that the question of transport was of primary importance,
he decided, as did Lord Kitchener later when faced with
a similar problem, to construct a railway across the level
steppe. With its aid,4 joined to his own powers of
organization, he was able to bring 8000 men with fifty-
two guns and eleven machine-guns against Geok Teppe,5
where the Turkoman had decided to make their last stand.
In January, 1881, in spite of the desperate sorties of the
Tekke, parallels were dug and a breach was made, through
which a deadly fire was poured into the confined area.
1  Vide Merit Oasis, ii. 170.
2  Vambdry in his Life and Travels gives the average price of a slave at Bokhara
at £3, but mentions that the price went down to five shillings  after the Persian
disaster.
3  Merv Oasis, chap. iii. ; also Ten Thousand Miles, etc., p. 16.
4  Only a few miles were actually constructed by 1881.
8 Dangil Teppe is the actual name ; vide The Heart of Asia, p. 291.